Model-based assessment of shading effect by riparian vegetation on river water quality

Andrea Ghermandi, Veronique Vandenberghe, Lorenzo Benedetti, Willy Bauwens, Peter A. Vanrolleghem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Shading by riparian vegetation affects incident solar radiation and water temperature in small- and moderate-size streams, and is thus an important component in the influence of forested riparian buffers on streams. The water quality effects of riparian shading are largely unknown. A simulation study was carried out to evaluate the effect of shading on six water quality variables in a moderate-size Belgian river stretch. A dynamic modelling approach making use of the River Water Quality Model No. 1 was chosen to represent the system. The scenarios developed indicate that shading may be an effective tool in controlling stream eutrophication (44% reduction in phytoplankton productivity in the simulated stretch) but has a limited effect on dissolved oxygen, chemical oxygen demand, nitrates, ammonium nitrogen, and phosphates. Results suggest that shading can effectively be implemented as a direct management strategy to improve water quality conditions in small and moderate-size watercourses that are exposed to excessive algal growth during summer periods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-104
Number of pages13
JournalEcological Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - 8 Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Dynamic modeling
  • Eutrophication
  • Riparian buffer zones
  • Riparian management
  • River Water Quality Model No. 1
  • River water quality
  • Shading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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